Hide the children and secure the goats – a Chupacabra was spotted in Tucson. Although this creepy creature was originally born of Puerto Rican myth, it has since materialized and made its way across several continents.

The coyote-like critter has enjoyed sightings throughout the 1980s in South America, spent a bulk of the 1990s in Mexico and has been currently roaming through parts of the Southwestern United States.

Carcasses thought to be Chupacabras have actually been DNA tested after they were brought to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. The results only proved the dead things were “some type of coyote,” although their snout and back legs exceeded the length of those found on a coyote. They also reportedly had large fangs jutting up from their bottom jaws.

The fangs surely helped give them their name, which translates from the Spanish as “goat sucker.” In addition to sucking goat blood, they are also known to attack small livestock like chicken and ducks and larger animals like cattle and horses but have never gone for a human.

KGUN9’s Chief Meterologist Erin Christiansen didn’t see fangs on the beast that was caught like, well, a chupacabra in the headlights in front of her car, but she did get a pretty good glimpse of the critter as it skittered across Speedway, west of Camino Seco, earlier this month.

“Seriously,” she wrote in an email, “I don’t know if what I saw was really a Chupacabra, but I can say that I’ve never seen anything like this animal before.

“What I saw was just a very strange looking animal. It was slightly larger than a coyote, no fur, leathery looking skin. It was mostly black with gray and brown splotches. It had a long rat-looking tail. Its face looked like a bat with disproportionately large ears, which also reminded me of a bat.”

Christiansen’s sighting is not the only time an inexplicable creature reared its creepy head in Old Pueblo. About 20 years back, my fiancé and a pal were sitting in their truck along South Houghton near an old corral.

“A thing came walking out of the desert,” he says. “It looked like a bear walking on two feet and had kind of like a cow’s head. We called him buffalo man. I don’t know what it was. I’ve never seen anything like that.”

While the buffalo man does not share some of the traits as the beast seen by Christiansen, variations on the Chupacabra do exist. It’s been described as having the body of a bat, the body of a kangaroo or sprouting thick wings.

Creepy? You bet.

Crazy? No way.

It takes a lot of guts to admit seeing a Chupacabra, or even a strange beast that may have been a Chupacabra. Kudos to Christiansen and Mr. fiancé for being so bold – and illustrating the beauty of an open mind.

When people close off their minds, horrible things can happen. They get stuck in a rut of the mundane, dismissing or attacking all that cannot be explained. They eradicate the mystery and fun from life and replace it with the banal – then wonder why they’re so cranky.

Lighten up, keep an open mind and enjoy life’s possibilities. And don’t forget to hide the children and secure the goats.